Johnson & Johnson Shares Vaccine Results

COVID-19 Vaccine is 66% Effective

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced the results of its late-stage trial for a one-shot coronavirus vaccine on Friday. According to a statement from the company, the vaccine prevented 66% of moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 in testing among 44,000 participants. The vaccine worked especially well against life-threatening virus cases—it prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and death.

Now that the results are in, Johnson & Johnson expects to file for emergency-use authorization in the United States this week. Lead scientists say they will have vaccines ready to ship out in March, when the vaccine could be cleared for use. It is not yet clear exactly how many doses will be ready at that point, but Johnson & Johnson has promised 100 million doses to the United States in the first half of 2021.

What Sets Johnson & Johnson’s Vaccine Apart

While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine does not appear to be quite as effective as competing vaccines from Moderna (MRNA) and Pfizer (PFE), the shot does have several advantages: it requires just one dose and can be kept at more standard temperatures.

Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two doses for their full benefits to take effect. That requirement has made it slightly more complicated to get the vaccines to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which must be kept at extremely cold temperatures and thawed and used quickly before they expire, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine can be refrigerated for up to three months. That could make it easier for pharmacies and areas without expensive freezers to distribute the vaccine.

Variants Complicate Vaccination

According to Johnson & Johnson’s test results, the vaccine’s effectiveness varied by region due to the new, regional variants caused by the virus mutating. The vaccine was 72% effective in preventing the coronavirus in the US, but that effectiveness dropped to 66% in Latin America and 57% in South Africa. While the trial did include people infected with B.1.351, the new, more contagious strain found in South Africa, the vaccine appeared to be less effective against such variants.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert, has expressed concern over the new variants and the protection offered by the vaccines currently on the market. Last Monday Moderna said it was working on a booster shot that could help protect vaccinated people against the South African variant. Pfizer and Novavax (NVAX) also said they plan to test altered vaccines to ward off the new strain.

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